This is a blog about depression. If you are easily offended or take offence to my very sarcastic humour, please do not read any further. Mental illness is not a joke; it is not something to point fun at and I fully understand that. BUT…when the going gets tough, sarcasm and humour is my defence and so I will be parading it around all over this blog.
If you need help, please get it. Whilst I hope this has a happy ending, I don’t know yet and given I’ve not been able to fix myself, I really don’t want others using this as a ‘How To Be Happy for Beginners v2.0’
I am up at 0935 having been woken up by the cats 3 times, the little buggers. I survived day 1 binge free so let’s try to keep day 2 on track. I have breakfast as planned before watching a bit of tv. Before you all start rolling your eyes and guessing which direction this is going in, don’t, just wait… Then I get up and put on my tracksuit! (Hooray, it seems I am finally learning)
I’ve not got anything planned for the day but I am going to a charity supper club tonight with Sister, Sister’s husband, Sister’s numerous friends and Friend GG. I’m going to have to wash my hair if I don’t wish to be mistaken for the cooking oil but, I am going to do some chores first, including a bit of cardio in the form of cleaning the flat. I am on a roll and quickly get through my 42 item checklist – yes, that’s still going, I’ll tackle that at some point but some point is not now. Friend GG is staying the night so I am going to have to tidy the spare room. This room is used primarily for drying my washing, storing things I don’t know where to put and to hide anything I am hoarding. Clearing space for someone to reach the bed takes time. Whilst clearing the debris, I look through a plastic bag I’d flung some random things into. As I do, I find a passport. My passport to be precise. I didn’t know I’d even lost it, let alone realising I’ve found it. It’s anxiety in reverse. This is the point most people would give a big sigh of relief and then relax. Instead, I start to wonder what else have I lost without realising it’s lost? Once the passport is safely deposited back in it’s normal safe place, I decide to give myself the best chance of remaining binge free. Prior to being admitted to hospital, I’d managed to get food under control. Part of this was a weekly roasting of a chicken crown for my lunches. So, I turn the oven on for the first time in months and in goes the chicken crown. Whilst that works it’s magic, I continue clearing up and organising a meal plan for the coming week.
Lunch is a microwave nuked one pot healthy meal with some added protein in the newly roasted chicken. After lunch, I’d planned to have a bath, do a face mask, exfoliate and wash my revolting hair. I am questioning if I’ve ‘earned’ the right to have a bath. The questioning continues for an hour – yes, I do realise that was enough time to have had said bath rather than contemplating it. Finally, I decide I can have a bath. I don’t have to earn this, my brain is lying to me, I am allowed a bath. I run the water, pour in some essential oils and apply the face mask. Once in the bath, I don’t think. I take deep breathes and I try to work out what relaxed feels like. Once I feel I’ve reached a relaxed state (not sure if I really did or not but it’s more relaxed than my obsessive cleaning), I exfoliate. Once I feel I’ve had enough time in the bath, I wash my hair and brush my teeth. Yes, it’s 16:00 but this still counts as a morning brushing of my teeth. They’ve been neglected again recently, as has the face washing so hopefully I can get on a roll with the self-care again.
Friend GG arrives just as I’ve finished getting dressed and drying my hair. Today feels really positive. I’ve not left the flat but it’s not in a depressed way, today has been productive. If Friend GG wasn’t coming, I could see myself talking myself out of tonight’s supper club. We have a weak G&T as we have both been off the booze recently and we are conscious tonight’s supper comes with a wine pairing for all 6 course! We chat and before we know it, we are at risk of being late. The organiser sent a reminder today with strict instructions not to be late so the risk of being late is now a real worry. I can feel my anxiety rising. Friend GG agrees we should get an uber. This is a relief as we won’t be late.
We arrive and we are too early. They aren’t ready for us yet. I feel stressed. I repeatedly tell them that they insisted we were here on the dot. They are all calm, I seem to be the only one phased by this. We head to a nearby pub to join Sister and the rest of the group. I sensible pass on having another drink. 6 small glasses of wine already has the potential for disaster. We walk back round to the venue for bang on 1900. Turns out they weren’t ready for us. People mill about and buy cocktails from the bar. I again resist, it’s for the best, I can already tell Sister is tipsy.
An hour later and some excruciating small talk later, it’s time to eat. The small talk is hard because I don’t feel I have any ability to socialise right now. I’m acutely aware that I’ve been droning on to Friend GG already today as I can’t seem to muster much ‘interesting’ banter so in a larger group, this is even worse. To give you an idea of how bad it gets, the conversation goes from nits, as in the head variety, disposable nappy vs. washing nappies and then, periods. Yes, really, in the reception area of a charity supper club, the only thing I could muster was a woman’s menstrual cycle. Woah Patient C, you really are special, and not in a good way.
The tables aren’t big enough for our group to all sit together. Friend GG, Sister and Brother-in-law and I split from the rest. I feel guilty that I have torn Sister away from her friends. There is a couple sat opposite us which are great, much better at banter than me so it turns out better than I thought. The food was delicious and the wine pairing was fun. I’ve sensibly been having 2-3 glasses of water per glass of wine. My bladder isn’t going to thank me in the night but my head certainly will.
The supper club ends later than planned and I am getting tired. The banter, even the rubbish stuff, is hard work. I am getting anxious again as I want to go home and sleep. This is when Sister and I snap at each other. The topic? Father. He’s driving stepbrother (note the ‘step’ rather than ‘half’ i.e. of no blood relation to Father or us) to his home in Stratford with some new furniture so, given he’ll be East, why doesn’t he pop in to Sister’s new home to say hi. I am not sure if I can face him. He’s texted a few times and I’m yet to reply. I don’t know how to handle him or me in this difficult emotional situation. We snap back and forth for a few minutes before agreeing to not talk about this again. Thankfully, Friend GG is tired too so happy to head home. This is a relief, after the snapping and the menstruation chat, I’ve got nothing left in me. We uber home and then quickly head to bed. I’ve asked Friend GG to make sure I leave the flat when she does tomorrow. I can’t be left to make my own decision to have another ‘flat day’.
I have big news, I do my teeth too. That’s twice today. Let’s see how long this string of success will last. Today was a good day. Being at home all day wasn’t in a negative way and I carried that positivity into the evening.
We get up at 0915 and have breakfast. I measure out the yogurt using kitchen scales as, whilst I am trying to break the binge cycle, things need to be exact. Friend GG has promised to see me leave the flat today as I am planning to attend a Mental Health Mates walk. If Friend GG hadn’t been staying the night, it was highly likely I’d not have gone but, at 1020, I find myself walking to the bus stop.
I arrive at the meet up location 10 minutes early. As I’d been getting closer, I gott nervous. Anxiety really is a bitch. I know there is no right or wrong, this is simply a casual opportunity to walk and talk without fear of judgement. It was started by Bryony Gordon. I start to scan the park for possible signs of today’s leader, Leader G. I finally resort to some Instagram stalking before approaching the woman who most closely fits the cute snap with her kids on my screen. Now the nerves kick up a notch. What am I doing here? Slowly but surely, more people arrive. Leader G has balloons with her but no great neon sign announcing why this random bunch of people have gathered. That’s a relief as we know how much I hate neon signs (read some earlier blog posts if you are unsure!). Leader G talks to me and I am starting to panic. Last night’s small talk is exactly why I get nervous when talking to people I don’t know well. I mean, I can’t exactly whip out the period chat again now can I? We start to walk and I am relieved to realise it’s more of a meander than a strident march. This suits my level of obese fitness.
As I calm down, it’s so refreshing to see others around me that are also struggling or are here to support those of us struggling. Plus, the walking, although a slow meander, is a literal step in the right direction to lose my depression love handles. As I talk, I notice I am more at ease talking about things that previously were incredibly shameful for me. This is progress. I try to quiet the punitive thoughts about how big I look and Leader G is incredibly kind and caring as I word vomit out things from the last few months. I am hugely grateful for her empathy and complete understanding. Things like this need to be the new ‘Normal’ to help stop the stigma surrounding mental health.
Having walked for an hour, some people are going to stay and do another lap. No, I am tired, I am ready to go home. I am going to assert my needs and say good bye. It still baffles me that this illness makes me so tired. My brain is on overdrive and meeting new people uses up a lot of energy units (again, read earlier entries for the background on this). I say bye and promise to come again. There is going to be one a month and I think, or at least really hope, I can make it out to more.
Side note: If you are thinking of joining one of the walks but feel nervous, please try to overcome it. The walk was great, I really recommend them. They are held on a Sunday all over the country. Check their website for more information
I walk home the long route. I need the exercise and the long route is also the pretty route. I listen to an audio book to drown out my brain’s horrible thoughts that the other people walking must be laughing at how fat I am. It’s an intense audio book so I need to concentrate. I call Sister on the way back as Father has responded to my text this morning. He really hopes I’ll come this afternoon. Sister isn’t listening, she’s doing something else at the same time and multitasking isn’t her forte. This annoys me so I say bye. I’m highly doubtful I’ll make it to hers this afternoon.
Once I reach home, I’ve clocked over 12k steps. This is very much a step in the right direction. I change into pjs which signifies my decision not to go see Father this afternoon. Step Mum will be there and our history is complicated. I can’t face them and I need to do what’s in the best interest of me. I am not going to dwell on this, I am not going to ruin my afternoon at home either. I’ve decided I am not going and so now, I need to work on not worrying about it. I have lunch, more roast chicken mixed into a one pot meal, before sitting on the sofa. I am going to do something I’ve been putting off for months. I am going to paint my nails. I love the outcome of painted nails but the doing is rather a chore. I don’t have the knack of neat nail painting!
I stay on the meal plan for supper and today’s treat is a big treat… white chocolate. It’s been weighed out as I am determined and whilst I have said determination, I need to capitalise it. Being binge free is another step towards feeling better. After supper, I start to work through my plans for the week. I’ve put in one thing each day that means I have to get out the flat. Looking at the week ahead, I am nervous. I don’t know if I can do this. I’ve not had a whole week hospital free yet so this is big. Tomorrow’s outing is lunch with Friend GG near where she works. The minor catch to this, she doesn’t work in London. Week 15 of this rollercoaster ride is going to be a biggie.
I can’t face blog write ups so instead, I set up a ComposMentisMe Instagram account, feel free to go follow me.
To have any hope of this week going well, I am going to need an early night. I brush my teeth (second time today!), wash my face (also second time today) and get into bed to read. I’d missed a call from Mum earlier and she’s been respecting my boundaries so I should call her back. This was a mistake.
The weekend was good, in fact dare I say it, the best in a long time. I’ve been scared to commit that to ‘paper’ as if doing so would tempt fate.
It was going so well. Why mum, why do you need to bring me down? Mum starts the come down by suggesting I drink water when I want to binge. She’s read somewhere that water helps people feel full. Mum, this is on par with Patient H’s suggestion of binging on bananas. I binge whether I am hungry or not, water and bananas aren’t going to cut it! I am binging, it’ll be white refined carbs and sugars. Then, I tell her my plans for the week including meeting my manager for a coffee on Thursday. Mum immediately jumps in and states that then would be an ideal time to go back to work. Mum, we’ve had this conversation, you aren’t meant to be asking me that. I will let you know with plenty of notice when I am going back but it won’t be Thursday or Friday this week.
I love Mum, and she loves me, but oh lordy this woman needs to learn empathy and subtly. Mum doesn’t get it. That’s ok but boy George if makes me feel so alone. I don’t think she’s quite clocked how serious my intent to die was.
I say good night and then turn on the ‘do not disturb’ feature on my iPhone. Ah technology is incredible. The feature means I don’t see Mum has called back whilst I am reading. That’s probably for the best. I turn off my light feeling a mixture of emotions. Proud that I am still binge free, positive that the weekend was filled with a good mood but deflated that the bubble has just been burst. Tomorrow, I have to go it alone and I’m petrified.
Snapped on my walk home from the Mental Health Mates walk